Don O'Riordan says Sheffield United's first intention with Chengdu Blades is to develop players for the China national team - ahead of taking talent to Bramall Lane.
"We want to provide players for Li Bing [the manager, a former China international] here while always keeping an eye open for a player who could leap through and go to Sheffield United or somewhere in Europe."
O'Riordan does not buy into the notion that Asian players will always be too small to compete on the world stage.
"The Chinese lads have an advantage over the English lads because they are naturally quick, agile and skilful," he said. "Players have got to be super athletes now and, if we can add to their mental resilience, then we have already seen from Michael Watts's work here how physical conditioning can bring players on."